Born & Raised British Pizza
British pizzas are a national disgrace.
The UK is responsible for such deep-pan disasters as the baked bean pizza, Thai curry pizza, doner kebab pizza, and – let us not forget Scotland’s contribution to the table – deep-fried pizza. Italian Pizza chefs regard us with contempt. And rightly so.
But let’s put all that behind us. English pizza can and should be delicious, and Born & Raised
are here to show us how. Founder Tom Dewey and his team have been winning hearts and bellies for the cause of the English pizza with a whole new take on the idea. A better take.
From their converted Land Rover Defender, the Born & Raised chefs wood-fire thin and crispy Italian-style bases with carefully matched British toppings. Juicy pork shoulder gets served up with apple and sage purée and fresh British watercress. Slow-roasted beef brisket is lashed with horseradish cream. A psychedelic beetroot juice-infused dough is loaded with goat’s cheese and caramelised red onion. Anglocentric Margherita beaters.
Tom trained at Gary Rhodes’ City restaurant under Adam Gray. "We were cooking with seasonal British ingredients, which nobody else was really doing at the time," Tom says, "It made me realise the potential of these distinctly British flavours." Around that time he also fell in love with pizza, and with a few mates learnt by doing. "We stayed up all night making these pizzas, and they seemed to go down well," says Tom. "We were making pizza the Italian way, but I realised that they would be a great vehicle for other flavours." Tom started experimenting with some of the British ingredients that he had been using in the restaurant, adding roasted meats and vegetables to his creations.
"The key to a great pizza is simplicity." Tom says. "It’s about having that perfect crust, a good sauce, and then just two or three good strong ingredients, and letting them do the talking." Tom sources his ingredients from British suppliers wherever possible, using vegetables from farmers' markets and cured meats from London’s Cobble Lane. He’s also been a champion of British-made Mozzarella, and full-flavoured Twineham Grange cheese. This summer at Dalston Yard he's roasting big joints of meat in the same wood-fired oven used to cook the pizzas. "We're going to take things up a level at Street Feast – we're planning to do hot-topped pizzas – we'll be roasting pork shoulders in fennel and garlic, and putting it on the pizzas hot. Normally with meat on pizza you have to spread it thinly, but fresh roasting it means we can get much bigger, juicier pieces of meat on there. And crackling."
And so we find ourselves the possibility of redemption from our pizza crimes of the past. Will Italy offer us its forgiveness? "I've got some Italian chef friends who love what we're doing," says Tom. “The chef at Franco Manca is obsessed with our goat’s cheese and beetroot pizza."
There’s hope for British pizza yet.
Article originally appeared in M&C Report